Comment : The strength of weak ties and evidence-based personal relationship management

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Comment : The strength of weak ties and evidence-based personal relationship management Delphic O. 1/14/13 7:43 AM
There is evidence-based medicine and there is evidence-based crime research. So why not evidence-based personal relationship management?

As today's New York Times article points out, traditional societies often view relationships differently from how we in modern societies do. (

We live in codified, impersonal societies. They live in uncodified but more personal societies. When we have a dispute over a traffic accident, we settle it in court and the goal is to arrive at some "just" solution, based on the degree of fault and so on. When people in traditional societies have an accident there is a series of ritualistic face-to-face meetings. The goal is not so much to find fault, but to restore the relationship that has been marred by the accident.

We sit around subway cats lost in our thoughts and smartphones. But people in traditional societies converse constantly, learning from one another and sharing. Diamond writes that it was sometimes hard for him to sleep during his research trips because the New Guineans he he was staying with would wake in the middle of the night and resume the conversation they had left off a few hours before. 

I am looking at such things as the behavior of individuals where they don't treat their relationships as a series of interactions but as one smooth whole. As, for instance, when they continue conversations that they left off hours before.

These types of behavioral attitudes are very important in sustaining relationships. If you are, generally speaking, willing to continue a relationship - except under exceptional conditions - then you are going to have more of them.

The way to execute on evidence-based personal relationship management is to view your social network as a graph in which you are the center. I have used this approach myself and the graph I use is just the set of family members in my extended family. People at one degree of separation are your siblings, at two degrees of separation are your first cousins, at three degrees of separation are your second cousins, and so forth.

One must truly believe in the strength of weak ties in this analysis. Sometimes, weak ties are more valuable than strong ties. The main reason, in this case, is simpy tat you can maintain more of them. You don't need to spend quite as much time in sustaining your relationship with your distant second cousin as with your sibling. Under evidence-based personal relationship management, you manage each of these relationships separately. You try to spend at least a bit of time with each of your weak links so as to sustain them. You also maintain your stronger links by more intensively sustaining those. There is a tradeoff between spending too much time on one relationship versus sustaining it. This can be managed quite easily.

When relationship with one of your strong or weak ties starts to sour - and relationships often do - you simply transfer your attention to the rest of your personal relationship network. This sort of strategy might only work in countries like India where there are large extended families and where traditional values are quite stong. It seems simple enough but it is a good one to execute on. Along the way, it is important to gather "evidence" as well. How is the relationship going? Are things going along swimming well or really badly? Et cetera, et cetera. You should not settle for anything less than an extremely nourishing and joyous relationship among your strong ties. You will know when you have one. If one of your strong ties becomes anything less than joyous, convert it into a weak tie.

The point to note is that weak ties can be very long-lasting. You can easily keep them up for years and years. And that ultimately is the way to maintain long-lasting relationships.

There are just so many, many people in the word that you really don't have to be lonely.

Re: Comment : The strength of weak ties and evidence-based personal relationship management Delphic O. 2/28/13 9:51 AM
I am also using this topic as a link for this discussion on Crooked Timber:

Comments on this to follow.

Re: Comment : The strength of weak ties and evidence-based personal relationship management Delphic O. 3/9/13 9:41 PM
Placeholder for reply to discussion on affirmative action, International Women's Day, et cetera.

   -  Anand

On Monday, January 14, 2013 7:43:11 AM UTC-8, Delphic O. wrote: